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Engineering Design Centre

Integrated System Design (5R17)


Integrated System Design (5R17)

Integrated System Design (5R17)

Note: Students wishing to take this course for credit should email the module leader before the course starts to be added to the participant list.


Leaders:               Dr. Per Ola Kristensson, Prof. P. John Clarkson, Prof. Tony Purnell

Timing:                 Each Wednesday of Lent Term 2018

Prerequisites:      Open to 1st year PhD students at the EDC and IfM. 

Structure:            8 weekly workshop sessions (3hrs each). 

Location:             All sessions will be in the Arthur Marshall Meeting Room, Ashby Lab., Engineering Design Centre, 2nd Floor, Inglis Building, CUED

Format:            Each session (except 1, 4 and 8) will include a 30 min introduction, followed by about 1.5 hrs of hands-on activities, 30 min wrap-up discussion and then 30 min working on group project (Building your own Whackbot!).

Assessment:       Students will be required to submit a weekly 100 word reflection following each session. At the end of the course students will then submit a meta reflection summarising the previous weekly reflection, a PhD plan and a 1000 word essay [Further details will be provided at the end of the session in Week 1].


The main aim of this module is to introduce students to the basic principles of integrated system design.  This will include introductions to e.g. problem structuring, system modelling, project management, creative design etc.  After the first session, students will be given a design project which they will deliver throughout the course of the module by spending 30 min each week (except weeks 1, 4, and 8) in their respective groups at the end of each session.


Expected Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this course, students will:

  1. Appreciate the importance of Integrated Systems Design
  2. Understand the principles of Integrated Systems Design
  3. Become familiar with ways of structuring problems and mapping systems
  4. Become familiar with three basic approaches to systems modelling and analysis
  5. Appreciate the importance of Risk Management in systems
  6. Be able to understand how Integrated Systems Design principles may apply to their PhD research projects.


Course schedule:


Week 1 [Jan. 24]:  An Introduction to Integrated System Design (why is Integrated Systems Design important?)

  • Motivation for learning principles of integrated system design.
  • Introductory discussion giving an overview of the key principles.
  • Collaborative design/build project using Lego Mindstorms – Robot competition.


14:00 – Why Integrated Systems Design? – Dr. Per Ola Kristensson

14:25 – Lego Whackbot Competition rules – Dr. Alexander Komashie

14:35 – Lego Whackbot planning and strategy time

14:55 – Lego Whackbot Competition – Round 1

15:15 – Tea Break

15:30 – Lego Whackbot Redesign  

16:10 – Lego Whackbot Competition – Round 2

16:30 – Wrap-up Discussion

16:45 – Plan for rest of term and course work  

17:00 – Session Ends


Week 2 [Jan. 31]:  Project Management (How do you ensure you deliver on time and on budget?)

  • Encourage students to think about how real life systems are designed under challenging time constraints and tight budgets.
  • Discussion on key principles of project management, considered in the context of integrated systems design.
  • It will be expected that students will use the experience gained in this session to produce a PhD project plan to be assessed at the end of the module.


14:00 – Introduction to Project Management – Dr. Tariq Masood

14:30 – Project Management Case Study

15:30 – Tea Break

15:45 – Project Management activities

16:30 – “Building your own Whackbot” project time

17:00 – Session Ends 


Week 3 [Feb. 7]:  Understanding the Problem/ System architecture (How do you ensure you understand the problem at hand?)

  • Identifying, structuring and prioritising system requirements.
  • Working with stakeholders, considering different perspectives.
  • Introduction to system architecting techniques.


14:00 – Understanding the problem - Dr. Per Ola Kristensson

14:30 – Hands-on activities

15:30 – Tea Break

15:45 – Systems architecture

16:00 – Hands-on activities

16:30 – “Building your own Whackbot” project time

17:00 – Session Ends 

Week 4 [Feb. 14]:  Creative Design (Where do great ideas come from?)

  • Discussion on the importance of conceptual design.
  • An introduction to processes/techniques to support good conceptual design.
  • Students would understand the factors that promote creativity in design.
  • In-class exercise will illustrate the role of Virtual Reality in creative design.


14:00 – Introduction to Creative Design – Dr. Nathan Crilly and Dr. Mariana Neroni

14:40 – Group Work

15:00 – Feedback from Group Work and Case Studies

15:30 – Tea Break

15:45 – Designing, Making and Testing – Inc. VR activities

17:00 – Session Ends


Week 5 [Feb. 21]:  Introduction to System Modelling and Testing (How do you make sure the system will work?)

  • Discussion on the relative roles/value of three forms of modelling: back of the envelope calculations, prototyping and computer simulation.
  • The key principles will be illustrated by considering their application to the example of the Legoline system.


14:00 – Introductory discussion on why model systems – Dr. Alexander Komashie

14:20 – An introduction to systems modelling

14:40 – The role of “back-of-the-envelope” calculations [with activity]

15:00 – The role of computer simulations [with activity]

15:30 – Tea Break

15:45 – The role of physical prototypes [with activity]    

16:30 – “Building your own Whackbot” project time

17:00 – Session Ends 


Week 6 [Feb. 28]:  Introduction to Operations Management (How do you manage what is going on in the system?)

  • Discussion on key principles of operations management, considered in the context of integrated systems design.
  • For this, students will use the Legoline system and a Discrete Event Simulation (DES) model of the same system for experimentation.


14:00 – Introduction to Legoline – Dr. Alexander Komashie

14:15 – Introduction to Discrete Event Simulation (DES) model of Legoline

14:30 – Group Work with Legoline and Simulation 1

15:30 – Tea Break

15:45 – Group Work with Legoline and Simulation 2

16:30 – “Building your own Whackbot” project time

17:00 – Session Ends 


Week 7 [Mar. 7]:  Risk and Systems (What could possibly go wrong?)

  • Will discuss the importance of Risk Management in systems
  • Understanding the different approaches to Risk Management in industry and healthcare
  • Understand some specific tools and techniques used in Risk Management


14:00 – Introduction to Risk Management – Dr. James Ward

14:15 – Approaches to Risk Management

14:45 – Activities

15:00 – Risk Management tools and techniques

15:30 – Tea Break

15:45 – Activities

16:00 – Wrap up discussion

16:30 – “Building your own Whackbot” project time

17:00 – Session Ends 


Week 8 [Mar. 14]:  Case study and Final Competition/Wrap-Up (Bringing it all together)

  • Grand finale of Lego robot competition using the whackbot students have been working on.
  • Industry case study presentation from Royal Academy of Engineering innovation professor, Prof. Sam Beale. This would involve real examples from decades of experience in systems engineering as Head of Technology at Rolls Royce.
  • Concluding discussion on key principles of integrated system design.
  • Collective feedback from students on key lessons learned from the course.


14:00 – Welcome and introduction – Dr. Per Ola Kristensson

14:05 – Integrated Systems Design Case Study: Rolls Royce – Prof. Sam Beale

14:50 – Lego Whackbot final preparations

15:10 – Lego Whackbot Competition: Grand Finale – Round 1

15:30 – Tea Break

15:45 – Lego Whackbot Redesign

16:05 – Lego Whackbot Competition: Grand Finale – Round 2

16:35 – Wrap-up Discussion, Reflections and Feedback/Reminder for coursework submission

17:00 – Course Ends


Necessary reading

Elliott, C. and Deasley, P. (2007), “Creating Systems That Work: Principles of Engineering Systems for the 21st Century”, The Royal Academy of Engineering, No. 293074, available at: